Book Club Wrap-Up: Zadie Smith’s “NW”


Somehow, October is already here and we haven’t filled you all in on how we wrapped up our September book select, Zadie Smith’s “NW.” Book Club met this week to put on our British best and chat about Leah, Felix, Natalie, and Nathan.

Stacks of NW ready to be discussed, and shortbread read to be devoured! (It looks like some people got a head start ...)

Smith’s narratives gave us a very distinct environment to imagine ourselves in, but we let ourselves have a bit of ‘creative freedom’ in the ways we brought the plot to life. All four of her protagonists come from the same background, and we get glimpses of them in their current, very different, daily lives. We decided to base our book club gathering on geographic location and cozied up on a rainy afternoon with tea and some varieties of homemade shortbread from our coworkers. This was definitely one of our more challenging reads, but very rewarding in the end. See after the jump for a few musings, and moments we enjoyed.

Be careful, and click ONLY if you’ve read the book … spoilers abound!

  • We loved that Smith kept each character in four distinct voices. Her writing styles shifted with each person, and helped define them as individuals, while keeping them within the same paradigm. It wasn’t too much, or too subtle, it hit just the right note. (Although we struggled with Leah’s a bit! She was all over the map.)
  • It was a bit labyrinthine to navigate the links between everyone, but satisfying when we did. Talking about the plot points aloud helped a lot, and we made some connections that I’m not sure we’d have been able to individually.
  • Keisha’s story, and her transition into Natalie, was my favorite (though maybe not everybody’s). She felt the most developed and complex of the characters. It seems like a given, as almost half of the book was written in her voice, but we also liked that her point of view added details to Leah and Nathan that we hadn’t gotten. Nathan, for causing such an important incident in the book, didn’t get as much attention as expected.
  • For the second month in a row, the ending left us a little wanting! I’m not sure everything was as complete as we’d have liked to have seen, and the loose ends left us wondering about everyone’s future.

What did you think? Let us know in comments below!

And check back on Monday to find out what we’re reading this October!

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